House Dems Claim Four New Seats Needed on SCOTUS Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., speaking at a press conference about expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
By Nicole Wells | Monday, 18 July 2022 07:03 PM EDT
Claiming “basic freedoms are under assault” from the “ultra right-wing” branch of the Supreme Court that recently reversed Roe v. Wade, a group of eight House Democrats called for legislation Monday that would create four new seats on the high court, The Hill reports.
Citing recent court decisions that allowed prayer in school athletics and tossed a New York gun control law, as well as the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe’s federally established right to abortion, the lawmakers said the court’s current makeup demonstrates the need for new justices.
Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat and the primary sponsor of the 2021 Judiciary Act, told The Hill that the court, as it stands now, is “a Supreme Court at crisis with itself and with our democracy,” where “basic freedoms are under assault” from the 6-3 conservative majority.
“It’s making decisions that usurp the power of the legislative and executive branches,” Johnson said of the only branch of government that isn’t affected by the popular vote.
The measure stands little chance of passing, due to a mix of Democrat skepticism and Republican opposition, but it channels the anger of progressive Democrats over the impact of conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
Nominated by former President Donald Trump, the three justices have dramatically changed the court’s direction, with twice as many conservative justices as liberal ones.
According to The Hill, the Judiciary Act was introduced last year and has stalled in Congress.
Some Democrats are concerned the proposed court expansion would make it easier for Republicans to propel more of their nominees into the spots.
“The nightmare scenario of GOP court-packing is already upon us,” Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., said. “That’s how they got this far-right 6-3 majority in the first place.”
At Monday’s press conference, lawmakers blamed the rise of a partisan court on Trump and the conservative legal movement.
The lawmakers also pointed to the length of the life-long terms the sitting justices are serving as problematic.
Referring to 72-year-old conservative Justice Samuel Alito, Johnson said, “You can see the gleam in his eye as he thinks about what he wants to do to decimate the rights of people and put us back in the Dark Ages.”
All in their 50s, the Georgia Democrat acknowledged that Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett are “going to be there for a while.”